MANATEE COUNTY — Each day Mark Johns drives to work from his home in River Strand, at Heritage Harbour, he sees firsthand the growth in residential development that the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office is seeing in charts and spreadsheets.
During budget discussions this month, Manatee Property Appraiser Charles Hackney reported that the county added 2,600 homes to its tax roll in 2014, a 30% increase in new construction compared with the prior year.
Although growth is occurring across the county, nearly half is in the East County area. In the East Manatee Fire Rescue District, which encompasses most of East County, 2014 new taxable values rose to $361.3 million, up 64.09% compared with 2013.
Johns, director of appraisal services for the property appraiser’s office, said the location of his River Strand community, for example, makes it an easy choice for prospective development with easy access to I-75, shopping, restaurants and other amenities.
“When you’ve got that infrastructure, that’s where people are going to go,” he said.
Of the top 10 communities reporting new home construction, six are located in East County, with another two in Parrish and the remaining two in Bradenton.
Lakewood Ranch’s Esplanade and Central Park communities capped off the 2014 new construction trend with 165 and 156 new homes, respectively. Johns’ Heritage Harbour development saw 129 new homes added to the tax roll.
“It’s close to the volume we had in 2008 (at the height of the boom),” Hackney said.
“We’re projecting about 3,000 new homes in 2015,” Johns added.
Although growth continues in East County, particularly in Lakewood Ranch, the property appraiser’s office expects thatgrowth over the next decade will be focused to the northeast, in Parrish.
Already, about 23,000 homes have been approved or are pending approval, and developers in that area are generally offering homes at lower price ranges, often less than $200,000.
The growth has prompted Hackney to request three new positions for his office. Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker’s recommended budget did not allocate funding for those positions, but Manatee County commissioners, during their last budget meeting, indicated they’d support funding two of the three requested posts.
Those positions are for entry-level appraiser trainees, with a salary range of $32,032 to $41,194.
Hackney agreed to withdraw his request for the third position, an assessment specialist with a salary range of $36,296 to $46,290.